Issue #2, Summer 2003

Welcome to the summer edition of the "Elderwoman Newsletter." I am delighted at the growth of subscriptions. We now have over eighty women receiving the newsletter. Keep spreading the word, forward it to your friends, I'm aiming for a hundred by next issue.


View from the Desk



Jan's Story of Healing

Amazon Reviews

Other Reviews of Elderwoman

Feature Article - Walking the Ridge

Call for Submissions


Talking Point: Discussion boards


Last Laugh


Dear Friends,

Thank you to all of you who wrote and commented on the first edition of this Newsletter. All the comments were favourable, and I found this very encouraging.

As I write this, we are in the fullness of summer, here in "Glorious Devon." The hedgerows are thick with meadowsweet and honeysuckle, and just going for a walk along the lane is an aromatherapy treatment. I feel so blessed to live in a place like this. I had my first sea-dip of the season last Saturday.

Once again, Elderwoman was one of the best-selling books at the Quest festival in Newton Abbot. Not the outright top best seller, as it was last year, but still in the top five. I did two workshops at the festival, and both were well attended. One was on the Elderwoman theme, but the other was my very first workshop on the theme of simple living. This was my first testing-out of the ideas that I am going to present in my new book on simplicity, The Lilypad List, so it was an important milestone for me.

I hope you enjoy this second issue of the newsletter. And for those of you in this Northern Hemisphere, have a wonderful summer. (Downunder folk, enjoy your break from the heat and bushfires and bushflies. I wish you much rain and full dams).


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Quote from the GTW website:

"Women everywhere are hearing the call that we MUST come together and work together to save our planet. That was the call being heard when Gather the Women was first envisioned a little over a year ago and that is the call that sparked the idea of the Congress -- a unique collaborative event between over 20 organizations. Delegates participating in the Congress will be inspired by over a dozen dynamic featured speakers, enjoy music, drumming, sounding and beautiful, interactive art displays, participate in numerous workshops and enjoy a sneak preview of the new PeaceXPeace documentary, Women in the Front Lines. In addition each delegate to the Congress will also be involved in an ongoing circle process geared to deepening our connections to one another and to co-creating a coalition that will enable our individual organizations to move forward with greater impact by working together."

I shall be attending this congress in October. Anyone else going? Be sure and let me know if you are.

This year I also plan to attend, for the first time, the famous CRONES COUNSEL. I almost made it last year but couldn't quite fit it in, so this year I'll be there, I hope, in Boise, Idaho, meeting - and having fun with - some of you wonderful crones to whom I have talked on e-mail.

(Yes, I know I said I was going to spend the rest of this year sitting home quietly writing my next book, but I have some Frequent Flyer miles to use up before the airline in question disappears down the plughole. Well that's my excuse anyway)


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I recently had an article on the elderwoman theme published in Alternatives Magazine, much to my delight. This magazine, published in hard copy around the Pacific Northwest and California - and fully available online - is one of my favourite sources for interesting and thought-provoking articles, so I was very pleased to have my own article accepted there. It is at but be sure and click back to the Alternatives home page and see what else is on offer.

Are you as addicted to Web surfing as I am? Admittedly, there is a lot of dross out there, but every now and then I find gold, and I just love those moments. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled into artist, Sandra Stanton's site "THE GODDESS IN WORLD MYTHOLOGY." Sandra has painted every goddess you could think of and posted all the paintings on her site, each accompanied by a full explanation. What an opus! What I especially love about her images is that she used live models for all of them. So these are real, living, breathing women, not stylized "beauties." And that is so very appropriate. For what is so different about the Goddess is that we don't worship her - we live her.

You will find Sandra's home page at:


Changing Faces
Did you read Rose Rosetree's article in the last newsletter about Botox and cosmetic surgery and what artificially changing our outsides in this way might do to our insides?
( Well I just want to add that Rose, a "face reader" who lives in Virginia, is thinking of making a trip to England next year. She would love to do some training here for people interested in learning the skills of face-reading. She will also give consultations. English readers of this newsletter, let me know if you have any ideas for Rose's itinerary or if you would like to consult her or learn from her while she's over here.

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Subscriber Jan Coleman shares the lovely story of her broken arm and how she speeded its healing:

On January 21, 1998, I fell in a restaurant and broke my left wrist and arm.
As accidents seem to go, in a second's time, I was down on the floor
wondering what had happened. I knew my hand was broken and, indeed, the
doctor agreed. I needed to have surgery to insert two pins into my arm.
After surgery, my arm was put into a cast that went from my hand, past the
elbow, to the middle of my upper arm. Then I received the dreaded news --
because the break was a difficult one, I would need to be in the cast for
four months, do physical therapy, and my hand would never be as good as it
had been. I can do many things with my right hand only, but certain things
I couldn't accomplish; i.e., driving, cooking meals, flossing my teeth,
curling my hair, opening certain cans, etc. Although I could accept the
length of time as stated by an AMA professional, I felt frustrated.

Two dear women challenged me -- "Why do you accept that timing and
diagnosis? Work on your own healing." Then they both uplifted my spirits
by educating me in what I could do to speed up the process of healing my

One woman is Norma Cordova, the spiritual, holy woman I was working with to
heal many emotional pains and physical symptoms. She starts her sessions
with a meditation asking all the spiritual teachers to enter our healing
room. Then she invites the healing masters, the Angelic spirits, etc. to
participate in this healing session. Norma is a Reiki Master (and is
certified in massage and hypnosis) and her sessions are cleansing, healing
and nurturing.

The second woman is Una Nakamura, my neighbor and spiritual friend. She has
been incredibly disciplined in her adult life to the pursuit of truth -- of
the way Life is; whom she, as body, mind, spirit, really is; and accepting
the responsibility of taking charge of her life. She is a Reiki
Practitioner as well as a master in many healing modalities and is willing
to share her wisdom with others who are searching for the "Truth."

The next morning, I began my healing session at 6:30 a.m. when I woke up.
Still in a warm and nurturing bed, I put my right hand over my broken bones
and began to focus on my breathing. With every breath in, I imagined the
Universal energy filling my body and directed that energy to my left arm.
With every breath out, I imagined I was letting go of the pain, the
congestion, the denseness, and the fear and exhaling it out of my body. In
and out, in and out, breathing deliberately and deeply but easily. I
visualized the broken bones as I had seen them in the X-ray as exact as I
could remember. I could imagine my breath in and around the bones. Before
long I realized how warm my right hand was -- energy was flowing through it
warming the cast and my bones. In my mind¹s eye, I called in the Spiritual
Teachers (Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Moses, known and unknown spirits) to make a
circle around me. I then invited the Healing Masters, the Great Mothers of
the Universes, the Angelic Beings, the Peaceful Warriors and the Sacred
Child to also make circles around me. As I embraced all these wonderful
spirits, I had a sense that my bedroom was a holy place and felt peace and
love entering me. With my eyes still closed, I continued my breathing until
an image of my head, shoulders, and folded arms lifted off the bed going
higher and higher until reaching a darkened sky. I watched the image float
away until I could see it no longer. And then a magnificent masculine voice
said, "We will work with you."

P.S. I confounded my surgeon by having my arm healed in six weeks instead
of four months. I can still see him shaking his head in disbelief.

(But those of us who know Jan are not surprised at all! - M)


There are still no customer reviews on the site, even though several people told me they had posted - or were posting - them. So I am wondering if there is a problem with their system. Please let me know if you have tried to post a review and it hasn't turned up.

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The Resurgence Magazine review of Elderwoman finally came out in May and is now online at . This is an interesting review, by Jean Hardy who, although she likes the book, takes issue with me about dividing the woman's life cycle up into the traditional three sections: maiden, mother and crone. She says she would like to see a whole new take on it for women who don't see their life cycles as going through those three stages. Jean herself does not recognize them in her own life. She acknowledges that I have made it very clear in my book that the "mother" phase is much wider than biological motherhood and applies to everyone. But she resists identifying with any of the stages herself. "I was never a maiden," she says.
I discussed this with Jean again recently at a GreenSpirit gathering, and although we share many of the same values we obviously don't agree on this one. But it is an interesting question, and one which only one other woman has raised with me - a woman who attended one of my book-signings in Chicago last year. Do any of the readers of this newsletter have opinions on this? I would be interested to hear from you if you do.

And while on the subject of reviews, I just discovered, quite by accident, the very best review I have ever had, which has been sitting on the New Times website since November and which I didn’t even know about: This reviewer, Margaret Doyle, calls Elderwoman "..A bible for our times" and says she would like to see people walking around with it under their arms and quoting from it the way they used to do with Kahlil Gibran in the '70s. Wow!!

OK, that's quite enough trumpet blowing for one newsletter!!

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Walking the Ridge

There is a lot of fear around, nowadays. What with the parlous state of the environment, terrorism, conflict breaking out all over the place and a general feeling of cataclysmic change happening all around us, not to mention the barrage of awful news that spews day after day from the TV and radio, it is often hard to resist contracting into fear and drawing the boundaries of ourselves ever more tightly around us, for survival.

Yet the truth is that if we walk around open, vulnerable and unprotected all the time, we risk getting hurt, both psychically and even physically. So once again, it is important to find that middle path; to walk that ridge between the valley of fear and the valley of foolhardiness. It is a huge challenge.

One of our readers (who has asked not to be named) sent in this story:

On Saturday, April 26, my son Dick took his three kids, aged almost six, almost five, and just-turned-three, to the Aquarium in Monterey. Outside, walking toward his parked car, three-year-old Melanie was abducted.

Think of a parent guiding the kids across a street, head turning this way and that to keep an eye on three kids. At one second the older kids were in front of him and Melanie just behind, not six feet away. Dick turned to collect her and she was gone. She is not a wanderer. Dick’s brain surged with about a million thoughts. Within thirty seconds he yelled, "My three-year-old daughter has been taken!" Immediately, faces full of concern and fear, all the good guys—lots of people getting into cars—swarmed around. Melanie is the spitting image of her older sister, so, pointing at six-year-old Tina, Dick said, "She looks like that, with a lime green dress and smaller." The people fanned out, looking. Dick dialed 911 on his cell. At that same moment two plainclothes police came hurrying over in response to that shout. Within ten minutes Dick saw a woman approach carrying Melanie, who had been maybe 200 yards away, alone, just standing there.

Dick clutched her, clutched all three, and bawled. I asked him later how on earth he could drive. He said, "Well, I just sat and shook for a while." I guess! But his most grisly thought was during those ten nightmare minutes when the possibility flashed on him that he might be taking just two kids home.

Melanie is of talking age, and with gentle questions she could say that the man was not black, "No, like me," she said lifting her dress and looking at her tummy. "Did he have black hair," asked Dick, or hair like mine?" "No, it was gray." Similarly the adults elicited that the man wore a white shirt and black pants.

Now of course very few people meet that description (ha) so the perpetrator was apprehended—oh how I wish! But the quick caring response of all the ordinary people within earshot of Dick’s shout there in the parking area was heartening, and the knowledge that public places are cruised by plainclothesmen is good. Sickeningly, Dick believes that the abductor must have snatched Melanie into his arms, for she knew his eyes were blue. He also believes that the abductor must have heard the yell, then simply put Melanie down and disappeared.

But Melanie was okay!

Dick said the place where they walked toward the car had about five ways for a man to escape—up and down the street, the cross street, and a path to that upper parking lot. One of the zillion thoughts that flashed through his mind before he gave that yell was to take chase and KILL. But there was no way to know in which direction to run. So he yelled. Most likely the abductor heard him and ran.

How could this happen? Melanie is like lots of loved children that age. She doesn't know about mistrust. What a thing to have to teach such a little kid.

I wrote to my daughter-in-law the following Monday:

That Monterey experience continues to reverberate in my heart, and I am absolutely sure in yours. The sight of your face in the car! There I was politely trying not to eavesdrop—when you talk on the cellphone you are discreet—and then you exclaimed, "Melanie was abducted?" And of course I whirled to look and your face was red, eyes intensely blue, hair as close to standing on end as I am ever likely to see, I hope.
These things just can not possibly happen. But they do. And they are not always tragedies, thank heavens, and that's the "Pollyanna" part of it. She was found! Unhurt, and apparently none the worse.
Our family’s potential horror story ended safely. But the dreadful fact remains that innocent looking villains lurk, and that we must all tighten our security, always be vigilant, keep our eyes on our kids and, sadly, we must not allow ourselves to believe that we are safe. And, Dick stresses, don’t hesitate to yell. A child can be taken in fifteen seconds. Melanie was abducted in Monterey last Saturday.
As a grandmother myself, I can imagine just how this woman is feeling. What-might-have-been probably continues to haunt her. "We must not allow ourselves to believe that we are safe," she warns.
And yet….
Can we really not feel safe any more? Can we ever dare to trust again when danger has brushed so close to us? How do we protect our little ones and yet encourage them to be bold and brave - and trusting? I used to walk about a mile and a half to school, by myself, when I was seven. And my own daughters were out and about on their own from a very early age. Yet if I knew they were letting their own children out on the street unsupervised, I would be terrified. Has the world really changed that much? And if so, how on earth do we help our grandchildren grow up without a sense of constant fear? It is enough to scramble one's brain, just trying to figure that out. Yet figure it out we must.
Some people think that a spiritual life is when you join a monastery or go to church every day or say lots of prayers, burn incense, take part in sweat lodges or have statues of gods and goddesses on an altar in the corner of your bedroom. But all those things are merely icing on a cake. To me, the truly spiritual life is one which engages the awful dilemmas of our human lives in all their raw reality, all their impossibility, all their insolubility. Dilemmas like this one. How to feel safe and yet be vigilant at the same time, how to relax and remain serene when all around us there is tumult, how to care and love - and also let go. How to feel our fear and yet not contract into it. (I love that piece of canny Sufi wisdom: "Trust in Allah - and tether your camel.") How do we take care of ourselves and our loved ones and yet also accept that whatever happens is, somehow, OK in the greater scheme of things? How do we walk that narrow, difficult ridge between fear and foolhardiness? It is almost impossible to do and yet it is imperative that we do it. That is the true spiritual path, a path along which there are few pat answers, just more and more increasingly difficult questions. A path along which, day after day, we come face to face with paradox. And say "yes" to it.

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As I said last time, my vision for this newsletter is that you will all contribute something to it. As you can see, several women have responded by sending material in. And I'm so happy about that. So please, everyone, send me your stuff. A piece of writing, a poem, a story, an announcement that you think would be interesting to other elderwomen, a comment on one of these articles, a new discussion topic - whatever you want to share. I want this to grow into a forum for exchanging ideas and experiences, a place to network. So please - send me your words. No payment, I'm afraid, as this is a free newsletter. (But you know what they say about the Best Things in Life....)

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Look at you now,

moving slowly, over damp leaves.

Mud-splashed, shabby,

parting at the welt,


Could you do it all again?

Walk the Grand Canyon north to south?

Stride. Through dust and stones. Yucca. Snow. White rock,

red rock, Ayers Rock.

That smooth-backed stone whale stranded at the heart

of a hard and hard-baked land of rock and sand.

Do you remember

the screech of cockatoos, relentless dry,

heat, leaves dried to a crisp?

Or would you rather

think of the bayou, and wet, polished knees of swamp

cypresses? Mist rising from still water

and the secret, watching eyes of alligators?

Leeches have crept

their strange, swift, ghastly, head-toe-head-toe

measure across you - till I screamed. And flicked them off.

Yet you were unperturbed.

Do you recall

that ancient aesclepion

we travelled miles to see, through

olive and carob? Greek goats browsing

half up, half down the wizened, leaning trees. And where,

when we had waited long

beside the crystal water,

(you, patient on grey pebbles, till my toes

had finished flirting with the sun), the old woman let us in.

I was ashamed of you,

standing there, so large and crass

upon those delicate,

thousand-year old tiles.

I do apologise..

For I’m so proud of you.

That’s why you are still here, now,

with me, in this green valley where we live

our quiet days. We reminisce

under the oak and beech

in our old age, yours and mine.

And here we’ll stay, the three of us.

Until it is time, dear, loyal friends

for the recycling

of your well-worn, well-faded leather,

and my own.

Ó Marian Van Eyk McCain 2001

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TALKING POINT: Discussion Boards

(I haven't received any feedback on this, so I am putting it in again)

Do we need a discussion board? Would you like one?

There are a number of options for sharing ideas. One is to submit them to me for this newsletter. But that is a very slow method.

Another is to communicate via the guest book on the Elderwoman website. (I upgraded this recently, so that people can reply to each others' messages).

A third option is to use a public message board. I already have one of these with Ezboard, but haven't activated it properly yet.

A fourth option is to have a discussion board built into the Elderwoman website. This would involve upgrading my hosting account and learning some more techie things that I'm not au fait with yet.

Then there are newsgroups.

Please let me know your thoughts on this, or any other options you might like to suggest.
Also, let me know of any other "talking point" you would like to get feedback on.

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This issue's quote was sent in by Suzanne Sutton (thanks, Suzanne, I love it!)



she discovered,

was just

another word for

"growing" ---

and she was

(finally!) at

last, growing

into the person

she always

meant to be.....

Lillian Kramer

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The Senility Prayer

God(dess) grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
The good fortune to run into the ones I like,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.

© Marian Van Eyk McCain July 2003
The Elderwoman website:
Marian's e-mail: marian(at)  (remember to replace the word "at" with an @) sign)

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